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In 5 words, who are you?

A number of years ago while I attended an insurance seminar in San Francisco, the featured speaker happened to be a Franciscan priest. I was somewhat surprised that the guest speaker at an insurance symposium was a priest, but as it turned out, the good father’s presentation was absolutely outstanding.

He began his presentation by asking us to look inside our hearts and determine what was really important in our lives. To aid us in our introspection he gave us a list of 23 words and asked us to choose five.

He gave no explanation, no parameters and no objectives; all we were asked to do was to choose five words from the list of 23.



At first I thought it would be an amusing but pointless exercise, but it turned out to be quite the contrary. The process took all of us a little longer than most of us thought it would. But more importantly, after choosing five words, an observer could easily see the entire audience was engaged.

Over the years I’ve had fun with this exercise and have used it in a variety of settings. I thought I would share it with the readers of the Vail Daily.



From the list that follows, choose the five words that you feel are most important to you. After doing so, ask a close friend or better yet, your significant other to choose the words they feel most closely depict you – then compare the two.

You may want to take this process a step further and choose the five words that would describe the way you want to seen by others and compare the two. Ask your significant other choose five. You may be surprised at what you learn about him or her, I know I was.

For what it’s worth, the woman sitting beside me at the seminar chose the five words that depicted the “perfect” man – fortunately we weren’t dating. There’s no end to the variations and perspectives. It doesn’t take much time, but you may find it both interesting and entertaining.



So go ahead and choose five words from the list below using the definitions next to each word. While no one can be characterized or described by five words, all of us have core values and beliefs that we live by, which is what this exercise is all about.

1. ADVANCEMENT – Growth, move up in status, professional or personal maturity.

2. BEAUTY – The appreciation of loveliness (e.g. enjoying art, nature, work.)

3. CREATIVITY – The freedom, ability and desire for new ideas.

4. FAITH – Belief in yourself, the goodness of life, the goals of your organization.

5. HEALTH – Physical and mental well-being.

6. HELPFULNESS – Sense of concern for and outreach to the needs of others

7. INDEPENDENCE – Freedom, liberation, self-motivation.

8. JUSTICE – Fair treatment-getting what you deserve.

9. KNOWLEDGE – Seeking and learning new insights.

10. LOVE – Personal warm feelings of caring and affection.

11. LOYALTY – Faithfulness to another person.

12. MORALITY – Ethical standards, conscience, sense of right and wrong.

13. PLEASURE – What you enjoy, what delights you.

14. POWER – Ability to lead, direct, persuade, control.

15. RECOGNITION – To receive special attention, to feel “important.”

16. RELIGION – Belief in a supreme being; a spiritual relationship with others.

17. RESPONSIBILITY – Accountability, maturity, ability to respond.

18. SECURITY – Having the essentials you need to live.

19. SOCIAL – Lots of fun, friends, companionship.

20. WEALTH – Material belongings and significant income.

21. WISDOM – Mature understanding of life.

22. WORK – Feeling good about your job as challenging and rewarding.

23. WORTHWHILENESS – You being accepted as a person, not a thing.

So what’s really important in your world?

Butch Mazzuca of Singletree writes a weekly column for the Daily.


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